LAUNCH YOUR FIRST BLOGGING SITE (STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE)
Earning through a blog is very much real. Yes, you read that right.
It’s 2019, and there are more than 1,00,000+ bloggers in India alone who are making their living solely through blogging. A blogging site can be one of the ways to quit your “9-5 schedule”, earn online and live an independent laptop lifestyle.
What you need to focus on now is how to achieve this luxury of sitting behind a laptop and making money online even while you are asleep?
Yes, I know it’s getting interesting. Isn’t it?
But before I tickle your curiosity anymore and start the whole drill of “what tools you need” and “how to set up a site (like a teacher)”, let’s just address that one big question which has probably crossed the mind of every aspiring blogger “Who would want to read my thoughts, recommendations and opinions?”
Believe me when I say this, “The concoction of words & images possess superpowers.” I know we are not in the world of Harry Potter & it’s magic, but what I say here is true! The only difference is that instead of a wand, your tool here is a laptop. (FYI, I’m a big J K Rowling fan!)
Today, I shall take you down my experience lane and walk you through the entire process step-by-step to help you create your first ever blogging site. (One you know the secret of earning online, you can’t stop at one!). You will have a better understanding of how to grow a blog and eventually monetize it by the end of this blog.
If, as a beginner, you can’t figure out whether to wind a watch or bark at the moon, then this blog will answer every query that you may have regarding starting a blog. So let’s get started. Shall we?
This index is the layout of this enormous blog (5000+words), but as I mentioned, it’s a detailed guide, it will help you grasp every bit of blogging. It doesn’t matter whether you have a technical background or not, follow the steps I have mentioned below, and you are good to go.
Step 1. Find A Niche That Interests You.
Step 3. Install WordPress – Your Blogging Software
Step 4. Select A Theme To Design You WordPress Blog
Step 5. Customize Your WordPress Blog
Step 6: Optimize For Search Engine Traffic
Step 7: Finding Topics For Blog
Step 8. Upload & Publish Your First Masterpiece On WordPress
Step 9. Blog Consistently By Setting Up A Calendar
Step 10. Monetize your blog
From here on, every step will cover minute details, so put your thinking cap on and take your first step towards launching your site!
Step 1: Find A Niche That Interests You
Choosing a niche is no rocket science; only one thing that it should interest you. If you love what you are writing about, you will soon find yourself motivated enough to explore the field and do great self-learning.
Also, no niche is exceptional or unexplored. There is probably a blogger/bloggers working behind it already. What will set apart your blogging site from others working in the same niche is your unrivalled experience and the tone, of course.
Given below is a set of questions that you need to answer before you choose a blog niche:
- Do you love the niche?
- Does that niche make you curious enough?
- Do you have enough experience to blog about it?
- Do people around you look up to you and ask for recommendations in the niche?
Let’s take an example to help you understand how it works.
If you are a homemaker who cooks well and is often appreciated for your recipes, then your secrets, tips or suggestions would be far too valuable to your audience.
If you start a blog site, then you can write about all your favourite recipes. Your tone would be much more authoritative as you will be confident from your experience. There is a great possibility that your friends and family have been looking up to you always for your tips which means you are good at what you do. Thus, you will put your best foot forward once you start writing about it.
Note: A blogging site on the recipe is quite broad, and therefore your audience might not consider you a specialist so how about you narrow it down? Out of all the recipes, you choose a category that you love making the most. It will always appeal to your inquisitive nature and keep you curious enough in researching more. All I’m saying is you can launch a site that only talks about dessert recipes or breakfast recipes. (Hope you got my point!)
Now, there is one last step that you need to follow before we wrap this segment. Do a quick check on Google. If you are concerned about the exclusivity of your niche or feel it’s too secluded, go for Google search and see the results.
I have searched here for “carpenter tools”, and Google has come back with 16,00,00,000+ results. It means that these many webpages have the information against this search query.
And if you start a blog site on this niche, there is undoubtedly high competition in it.
So, take time in deciding the very niche you wish to work on and only once you are sure about it, proceed to step 2.
Warning: Step 1 will look the easiest once you read the other steps. (No kidding!)
Step 2: Buy Domain & Hosting
Since some of you might be absolute beginners, let me first explain in the easiest way possible what domain and hosting means. Though these words might seem a bit too technical, they are not, I promise.
A domain is just like a home address where your audience can visit you and hosting is like a house key that gives them access inside it.
This sounds fun & simple, right?
Domain and hosting are interdependent, and one won’t work without the other to run a blog site. Now, let’s understand them one-by-one.
A domain is the name of your blog, which eventually becomes your brand. For instance, my domain name is “sristhiagarwal.com”. This is about me as a brand. But you can choose a domain name based on your service, niche, product or your name itself (just like I did).
There are several other domain providers in the market, such as Bluehost, HostGator, NameCheap, etc. As per me, I purchased my domain from GoDaddy. In fact, I have bought five domains from there as of now, and their technical support is too quick, which is essential.
Speaking of costing, a domain name might cost around 600 to 800INR (8-10$), and you can buy them annually.
Coming to hosting now. Go for a shared hosting (when multiple websites are hosted on the same server) as a beginner. There are multifarious hosting providers such as HostGator, BlueHost, SiteGround etc. in the market to choose from.
Speaking of my website (sristhiagarwal.com), I run it on a shared hosting of Vapour host. I currently use their professional hosting package. You can visit their site and explore more hosting packages (such as mini hosting).
The rates of Vapour Host are economical and best suited for those who have a strict budget for their first site. They have monthly, quarterly, semi-annually and annual packages so that you don’t have to buy everything instantly. (Watch a video on how to buy hosting from Vapour Host here.)
Based on my personal experience, they have a great customer support team who resolve your ticket in a short span of time. As of now, I run a total of 4 websites (mine and my client’s site)
If we combine the cost of a domain and hosting (annually), it will come around 1400-1600 INR (around 20-22$). That’s a pretty decent amount to shell out from your pocket. Isn’t it?
Don’t go for too fancy options at the start, only once you have a number on your regular visitors, you can think of cloud hosting (single website hosted on multiple servers) or SSL certification (secure socket layer that keeps your website safe from any virus attacks)
Now coming to certain suggestions while purchasing a domain name:
Let’s consider the image above from GoDaddy. (you can watch the domain buying process video here.)
I have searched for a domain name “writervanirakkar.com”.
Firstly, I chose a “.com” extension. Avoid (until absolutely necessary) country-specific extensions such as .in, .uk, .au etc. as it limits your reach. Also, .com is easy to remember and opens up even when people type your domain name in the search bar of Google and press enter.
Secondly, the domain name has only three words out of which one is a keyword (writer). It shall shoot up the visibility of the writer.
Thirdly, I have avoided any numbers or hyphen, which is not recommended.
Lastly, though SSL is not a compulsion, it is advisable for SEO. Also, if your site involves a payment transfers or individual account logins for the user in any way, then you must go for SSL certification.
A word of caution: Don’t get too engrossed in finding the right domain name or else you might never get started. Keep the momentum going by selecting the aptest domain name that is relatable to your idea or niche.
Step 3: Install WordPress- Your Blogging Software
Now before you get nervous by the term “Blogging Software“, don’t. It is the easiest tool ever. The settings and navigation are user-friendly and easy to operate. Also, it doesn’t cost you a penny to start.
There are other platforms too like WebPro, Wix, etc. but if you take my recommendation; I would suggest you opt for WordPress. There is a huge list of benefits that WordPress has to offer to its users, which backs my recommendation.
Wondering what those benefits are? I’m glad you asked.
Let me state some benefits, if not all, as to why one should use WordPress.
Firstly, even without any technical degree, you can make a great online platform for yourself or your business using WordPress.
Secondly, there are hundreds & thousands of free plugins that keep your website updated. Also, few of the marketing plugins such as email marketing can be easy merged with the website in no time.
Lastly, you can shape your blog in any way you wish.
So, let’s get your WordPress running in two situations:
- Buying Domain and Hosting From the Same Provider
- Buying Domain and Hosting From Different Provider
Situation 1: Domain and Hosting From the Same Provider
Firstly, after purchasing your domain and hosting both from the same provider, log in to your account and start instantly by clicking on the “Install WordPress” icon.
Go for “Do it yourself” and hit “install”.
Then enter your domain name you wish to install and click on “check domain” button.
Click on the checkbox for “T&C” and hit the” Install Now” option.
Congrats! Your site is up and running. Did that take even 5 minutes?
Situation 2: Domain & Hosting From Different Providers
This is currently my case. I have purchased my domain (sristhiagarwal.com) from GoDaddy and Hosting From Vapour Host. In such a case you need to do a very small edit in your name servers.
- Log in to your GoDaddy account and choose the domain you wish to add hosting to.
- Click on DNS Management and scroll to the “Name Servers” Section.
- Copy-paste the name servers provided by your host on your email and save.
- The moment your name servers are updated, login to your cPanel, install your WordPress, and your site shall be live in no time
If this is your first online presence, then I’m pretty sure you are in the moment”. Well, rejoice and move to step 4.
Step 4: Select A Theme To Design Your WordPress Blog
Themes are design formats on WordPress. You can choose based on your objective and look & feel, of course. You can choose only one theme at a time. If that doesn’t look well, then you can install another one. Also, every theme comes with complete documentation so that you customize by reading instructions.
Note: The minimalistic your design looks, the user-friendlier it appears.
I have built this site using Generate Press (free version). It is simple and effortless to customize. Let’s go through the process of installing the theme one by one.
Step 1: Log into your WordPress account. The link is your “domain name/wp-admin” (For instance, www.xyz.com/wp-admin). Enter your username and password, and your WordPress dashboard will open.
This is how a dashboard looks. It has all the tabs listed out extensively. But instead of feeling lost, let’s concentrate on our objective of “choosing a suitable theme.”
Step 2: Go to “Appearance” in the sidebar and click on Themes.
One or two themes might already be present on your dashboard, but you can always explore the themes already present on WordPress by clicking “Add New” button. There are thousands of themes to choose from.
You can see tabs Popular, Latest, Favorite, and Featured that has themes under it. You can also search theme directly in the search tab (if you already know a name) or go to upload the theme to install a direct file (if you have any).
Step 3: Select a theme you like and click for preview before installing. If it fulfils your purpose, then go ahead and click “Install” then activate it.
If you are not satisfied with the free theme, buy their premium version or go for sites like Thrive themes (highly recommended for premium design), Themeforest or StudioPress to find unique website designs.
Now that your theme is ready let’s customize it for website layout, features and other plugins in the next step.
Step 5: Customize Your WordPress Blog
The best thing about using WordPress is that you can customize it as per your requirements without knowing even a single technical software. The whole software is all about drag and drop. All you have to do is install a few plugins and page builders, and you can build your website like a pro.
The theme that you have installed will also offer customizations such uploading your logo, tagline, favicon, colour settings for text and links, widgets, setting header and footer etc.
In my case, I’m using Generate Press theme that allows me to customize the layout of my website with logo, tagline, menu and colours etc. Though I’m using a free version, the premium version has more to offer.
Under the Site Identity tab, enter your brand name for Site Title (Like I have mentioned Sristhi Agarwal). You can enter your business tagline and upload your logo and site icon (favicon)
Under Layout Tab, You can customize the header, footer and if you wish to include any sidebars (like inserting a form or email subscription)
Under Colors, you can customize colours for the link, blog post title, title, background etc. It s always recommended to choose two or maximum three colours for a complete site.
Under Typography, you can choose the font family, font size and margins. It also allows to individually edit the font style & size of each heading (H1 to H4).
Widgets can be found on the WordPress dashboard too. You can insert images, text, calendars, links etc. in the form of a widget. My free version of Generate Press allows me to insert widgets in the right sidebar, header, footer bar and top bar. You don’t need to necessarily insert everywhere. Insert one or multiple widgets only when necessary.
Now, apart from default customizations, install plugins like Elementor, Contact Form 7, etc. as they help in building a more structured layout. To insert plugins, go to your dashboard and click on the “Plugin tab” located on the left-hand side. Click on add new and type the name of the plugin. Click on install and activate.
After customizing the site, you will have a defined web space ready to post your blogs.
Step 6: Optimize For Search Engine Traffic
To reach your potential audience, you need to optimize your content and images. To do so, all you got to do is follow a simple set of instructions and Search Engine (Google) will do the rest for you.
You need to understand the challenges your audience face and insert the same in the form of keywords. But in this process, you must remember that you need to strike a balance between readers and crawlers. The readers will read your content, but only if the crawlers can find it first and then present it to your audience. So it is a tricky business.
Let’s slow down and understand the process step by step.
Though, you can download the free version of Yoast and optimize your pages and blogs for meta description, images etc. you can benefit more once you have the premium version of it.
This blog contains information on premium Yoast plugin. After purchasing the premium version and activating it, go to Yoast dashboard and click on “Search Appearance Tab”.
Select whether you are an organization or a person and enter your info such as name and image. Click on save changes and the information will get updated.
Now go to “General Settings” and click on “Webmasters tool”. Webmasters tool is essential to submit your site on a search engine (Google, Baidu, Bing, etc.). In this case, we will register on Google.
Register your website on Google Search Console”. Once you receive the verification code enter here, verify, and the site will be indexed on Google.
If you have noticed, we have covered almost 6 significant steps till now, which includes buying a domain, hosting, installing WordPress and customized it with a theme. Also, the site is registered on the search engine for crawlers to find.
It’s time for us now to understand that it’s a blogging site which needs continuous content to feed the visitors. So, reach out to the writer inside you because it’s time for you to create content.
Step 7: Finding Topics For Blog
If you have reached this step where your site is already set up, and you have from average to great writing skills, it’s time to draft your first blog for public. Don’t be too alarmed at this stage; most people feel they might be judged or not liked for their skill. Be assured, background noise doesn’t make a difference, so go for it.
Let’s work out on the same example we discussed in step1. You are a homemaker who decided to blog on food recipes, and later you narrowed your arena by choosing only breakfast recipes. (This selection of category itself made your site a specialist).
Now all you have to figure out is how to find the right audience and select relevant topics for them. Remember, blogging site is all about sharing your personal experience that comes through success, failure, and experimenting.
Here is a small exercise, including 4 steps that you need to do, which demands very less of your time. I use this method myself.
1. “Who will read blogs on breakfast recipes?” (Write at least 5-7 answers).
If I have to state the readers here, it would be:
- Fitness conscious people,
- Folks with sedentary lifestyles
- People visiting the gym
2. What challenges does this audience face?
- A mother will look for a more nutritious recipe for kids.
- A homemaker will look for a variety in breakfast.
- Fitness conscious people will look for fulfilling recipes.
- Folks with a sedentary lifestyle would look for quick snacking.
- People going to the Gym will look for a recipe that involves no/fewer carbohydrates.
So, there you go. You know now what your users might look for broadly in the breakfast segment. Let’s break it down further.
3. What character would the audience above portray?
(As per my observation) For instance,
- Mothers would be emotional & protective.
- A homemaker would be active & stable.
- Fitness conscious people would be more careful & inquisitive.
- Folks with a sedentary lifestyle are likely to be lazy.
- People going to the gym would be highly energetic and zestful.
Now one last thing before we figure out the topics catering to each of these categories
4. What each audience loves and hates in terms of the niche and specification? (Breakfast recipe)
- Firstly, mothers will love to cook healthy food for their kids but hate cooking junk.
- Secondly, homemaker would love to cook variety but may hate recipe demanding more time. (They might look after 3-4 people in a family, so quick fix in the morning is all they need)
- Thirdly, fitness conscious people love frequent snacking and consider breakfast important, so they will look for salads and fruit involving recipes such as smoothies and hate anything that has fat content.
- Fourthly, folks with a sedentary lifestyle would hate eating deep-fried breakfast and would love some light breakfast.
Lastly, people going to the gym would hate anything to do with carbohydrate or fats and would love to stick to anything that has protein in high amount.
Now that you have a lot of information, you can also create a table listing the same five categories for a better picture and evaluate which category will look for what options.
For each category, figure out 5 topics, and that’s 25 topics right there. It’s almost a month of content. Then all you got do is write small blogs of 500-700 words each and post it.
Hope you got my point on how to first find who your audience is then understand everything about them and then choose the topics. This way, you will never feel lost and will be able to come up with topics easily.
Step 8: Upload & Publish Your First Masterpiece on WordPress
To upload your blog on WordPress, you need to log in with you’re your credentials and then go to your dashboard. Click on “posts” tab.
Since this is your first blog, it will display “No posts found”. So go ahead and click “Add New”. A new webpage will open up.
If you already have written the blog in a word doc, copy-paste or start writing here. Everything will be saved as a draft. Just like word doc editor, you will find all the options here on the toggle bar too (such as B, I, U, attaching link etc.)
In the new format of the editor, select each block and select what is it going to be? (whether a paragraph, a quote, heading H1, H2, H3, H4)
The title will be H1 and subtitles will be from H2 to H4 depending upon the importance and keywords you want crawlers to find. Rest content can be selected as paragraphs. You permalink will be based on your Title (H1).
For more engagement and visual factor add images in between by clicking on “Media”. You can select the image from the gallery or upload it from your system.
Once everything is in place, go ahead and click on “preview tab” to double-check all the content and images. If everything is as per your requirement, click “publish tab” and your blog will be live.
How To Optimize Your Blog For SEO Using Yoast Plugin?
I know by now you must be thinking that there is too much work you have to do to publish a blog right from writing it well to optimizing it and editing it as per SEO but believe me it is effortless and doesn’t consume much time once you are habituated to it.
The reason you need to optimize your blog as per SEO is because you want Google to show your blog in the search result against a relevant search query. Or in simple words, let your audience find your valuable work by thinking beforehand what they might search on Google.
Yoast has Readability Tab, SEO Tab and Social Tab. Social Tab is to share your blog to social channels and works only in the premium version.
Both Readability & SEO use three colours, i.e. red, orange and green, to indicate how crawler-friendly your blog is. The red colour indicates poorly optimized; orange shows it needs a bit of amendment and green shows greatly optimized.
Let’s discuss Readability first. It is all about framing simple sentences, correct usage of active/passive, and transition words etc. The analysis results indicate what factor is unfulfilled and needs fixing.
Now coming to focus keyphrase, which is the actual SEO optimization.
Given below are few points that you need to execute to get a green status for your blog.
- SEO greatly relies on Keywords (which means what users are typing on a search engine). Yoast plugin allows you centre stage your article around a single keyword (free version) or multiple keywords (premium version). You can also check if the keyword density is enough or not in your article.
- After this go ahead and write a Meta description of 160 to 180 characters which is a snippet of your blog. Do include your keyword here. Your Title becomes your slug and also your permalink.
- Another place that needs keyword is alt tags. Click on your images and add alt tags in some of them.
- Your title must contain the keyword and if possible, use it in subtitles too.
- Add External Links (from other websites) and Internal Links (from your site) to your blog.
- Write a blog that is above 300 words.
Yoast itself guides in real-time what is missing and what is already fixed or fulfilled.
PS: SEO is an activity we do for crawlers but to please them do not forget about your audience. The blog has to be user-friendly too. So don’t push yourself too much in meeting a green indicator. Even an orange indicator would do.
Once everything stated above is achieved, go ahead and set a featured image for your blog. It may contain your logo, title or just image. You can either use Canva or Photoshop to design a perfect image that complements your blog.
Preview your blog to view the final outlook, and if everything is absolutely in place, go ahead and publish your first blog.
This is how my blog looked after getting published.
Step 9: Blog Consistently By Setting Up A Calendar
Beginnings are always exciting, but the challenge comes when you have to keep up with something. For instance, remember when you bought your first car and use to get it washed every day or twice/thrice a week. Then you got lazy and made it a month, and then it became once in two months.
The same happens when you set up your blog site. You create exciting content for a week and then without any plan; you feel directionless. You always shift your tasks for tomorrow, which never comes. This can lead you to a failure not because no one was interested in your content but because you were not consistent.
Make a blogging plan on an excel sheet and create the following tabs:
- Post name
- Post publishing date
- Keywords to target
- Inbound/outbound links to attach
- Meta description
- Optimized images
Play a different ball game altogether and let not any distraction come your way. It’s hard to argue on “Is online boon or bane?” The reason being that the very platform you learn from is full of distractions.”
I always prefer creating an excel sheet. It keeps me in check and keeps reminding me of my priority in terms of blogging.
Coming to the quantity of content creation. You surely don’t have to be a content ninja! Quality and quantity should strike a perfect balance.
Take your time and work at a pace you are comfortable at. If you can produce only 1-2 blogs a week, keep it that way for a while and eventually increase it when you start seeing the response from your audience but do not break the circle.
There is another topic that needs discussion. If your blog starts getting a great response that implies your audience is consuming content. If you fail to provide them with what they are looking for your competitor sites will. Be at par with your deadlines and value your goals.
Remember, the biggest motivation comes from keeping in mind “Why you started your blog site in the first place?”
Step 10: Monetize Your Blog
Bloggers might have a very different purpose for launching their blog. While some might look to create their brand or share their knowledge and experiences, others may have a wish to monetize it.
But don’t consider monetization as your immediate goal. You will take quite a few months and a great effort to reach that stage.
Please consider what I have to say before you take a road to travel. A site is only successful if it has an audience. If your audience is not visiting, no matter how valuable your product is, you won’t see any sale.
Now, you must be thinking of ads. My suggestion, don’t go there. You need to build your reputation first on solid grounds.
This is my belief “Create demand and have your sales in command.”
With blogging, you can interact with your audience about what challenges they face in a niche. Ask your audience what they want to see or hear? Put a question while ending your blog. You can use survey forms and see if you get revert on those.
Once your audience starts responding, find new content ideas to engage them regularly. The best way is to write blogs on challenges faced by your audience rather than writing generic stuff.
Once you have an audience that trusts, you can build a product that helps your community. It’s a complete win-win.
For instance, I use to conduct small training on blogging for a small audience online. When they attended, they liked my content and asked if I can arrange another training on SEO. While some of them asked if can take up their blogs or website content, others wanted to know about how I Started? All this data was valuable for me. I helped me understand myself better.
What actions do you think I could have taken from the above response from my audience?
- A link to a free download of my e-book on SEO and collecting data of interested audience.
- Collecting feedback on e-book (if the tips and tools listed in it were helpful)
- Conducting a live webinar.
- Eventually thinking of launching a beginner or expert SEO course.
(Well, I created another free training and collected around 30 genuine email ID’s)
How To Monetize Your Blog Once You Have An Audience?
- Earn Through Advertisements
You can either opt for AdSense and provide space on your website to Google or sell it privately to other brands who wish to collaborate with you for your traffic and niche of course.
- List Your Products
Just like I mentioned above list your products such as e-books, software, or a course.
- Provide Consultation
This is, again, a great way of making money full-time. Start consulting by selling your experience and expertise. It’s hard work, but surely there’s good money for personal sessions.
Are You Ready To Launch Your First Blog Site?
Thus, your blog is all about your experience that you are sharing with your audience and not with bots or crawlers on Google. So keep it simple & realistic and share genuine information.
Also, this is a complete process for setting up your blog in the simplest way. So, follow the process step-by-step and let nothing limit you from reaching your goal.
Leave in the comments below what challenges you are facing or faced when you were setting your first blog site.
Also, if you find this step-by-step guide useful, share this with your friends or anyone who needs to read this.
Start Your Blog Today!